When I reported from South Africa in the 1960s, the Nazi admirer B J Vorster occupied the prime minister?s residence in Cape Town. Thirty years later, as I waited at the gates, it was as if the guards had not changed. White Afrikaners checked my ID with the confidence of men in secure work. One carried a copy of?Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela?s autobiography. ?It?s very eenspirational,? he said. Continue reading “Nelson Mandela?s greatness may be assured ? but not his legacy”
The news of the death of Britain?s Iron Lady, Baroness Thatcher, prompted me to recall my favourite story about her. In 1980, in the first of her three terms as prime minister, she said in a speech to her Conservative Party?s Conference: ?You turn if you want to. The lady?s not for turning.? Because I was personally engaged with her at the time, I know that she performed her first U turn in her first 48 hours of being prime minister. Continue reading “When the lady ?not for turning?, turned”
Hundreds of thousands of people?have held?protests in Bangladesh to demand?that the government introduce an anti-blasphemy law that would include the death penalty for bloggers who insult Islam.
Protest organisers called Saturday’s rally the “long march”, with many travelling from remote villages to the capital, Dhaka’s Motijheel area that became a sea of white skull caps and robes. Continue reading “Al Jazeera: Bangladesh protesters demand blasphemy law”
Before the recent election campaign in Venezuela, the last time that I had been close enough to Hugo Chavez to use a wide angle lens was last February when he left for Cuba to be treated for a recurrence of his cancer. ?That farewell began as a solemn procession through the streets of Caracas, with Chavez dressed in black, riding in a dark van with open sunroof and an image of Christ on the windshield. His supporters showered him with flowers on the way to the airport, as he left his followers in suspended animation, and his future full of doubt.
This campaign was a re-encounter with him; one that many didn?t believe would happen again. His cancer disappeared from the agenda, and Chavez was back. For his followers it was the difference between night and day, or the idea of a Venezuela without him contrasted with his reappearance in power, where he had been for the last 14 years. Continue reading “Chavez?s latest K.O.”
By Monirul Alam/The Daily Prothom Alo
Police on Sunday foiled an attempt by the demonstrators of various left organisations to besiege the Ministry of Energy in protest against the hike in energy prices.
Witnesses said at least three activists were injured when police charged batons at them.
Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB) and Gonotantrik Baam Morcha activists attempted to march towards the ministry from the Press Club area at around 11am, but the police blocked the roads by placing barricades at the secretariat-press club link road.
Protestors attempted to break through but the police charged batons and lobbed tear gas shells to dispersed them.
He stopped at every print. Getting close to scrutinise every character, pausing more at some that perhaps stirred a memory. He smiled broadly when I approached him. ?eto amar chobi tulsen? (it is me you?ve photographed) he said. This was his war. He remembered the pain the terror, the joy. He had never applied for registration. No card, no land, no perks. He had never been asked to speak at a dais extolling his glory. Victory being won, he had drifted out the way he had drifted in.
He was a Baul singer, living off the alms given by visitors to Suhrwardy Uddayan, where the deed of surrender had been signed on the 16th December 1971. He had no regrets for his lack of wealth, or for not having had his share of the spoils of war. It was our departure from the values that had driven him and his fellow muktijodhdhas (freedom fighters) that saddened him. He had a great love for Mujib, and felt we had let him down.
The hartal (general strike) today put a spoke in the works. Our driver Joshim needed to drop me off at the airport and be back at base before sunrise. The young tailor Biswajit Das having been brutally murdered in full view of the police and the media, meant we could take no chances. Joshim had been sleeping downstairs in order to be at ours at such a ridiculous hour. Rahnuma rang him at 4:00 am, and soon a groggy Joshim, Rahnuma and I were off to the airport. Rahnuma and I have never had the luxury of seeing each other off, but it didn’t feel safe for Joshim to be heading home on his own. So Rahnuma volunteered to be body guard on the return trip.
There was no traffic. At least none that we could see through the incredibly dense fog. The headlights made things worse with the fog itself being lit up by the headlight and shining the light right back at us. Without the headlights, once could at least barely make out the edges of the road. The risk of being beaten up by thugs in the street, had been replaced by the risk of getting run over by a fog blinded truck. At least we had a vehicle of our own and the option of travelling as we pleased. Continue reading “Airport blues”